Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Home Body

2013 was not a great year for me. It was the year my mother died. I thought I’d be so happy to finally count down the last seconds of that year. Instead, I was blindsided by panic.

2014 will be the first year of my life in which my mother won’t exist. Not physically, anyway. This New Year severed one of the few remaining connections I had to my mother, hurling me into a space and time where I found myself grasping for air and desperately searching for somewhere safe to land my feet. This will be the first full year without my mother. The realization was yet another Band-Aid ripped off, another punch in the gut. It’s a wonder I have any skin left and can keep down solid food.

I think on some level I knew this year would be a rocky road because I had already made some big changes to ease the way, the biggest of which was to leave my job. Although I had tossed about a handful of very valid reasons to support my abrupt decision, I won’t pretend it wasn’t a direct result of my mother’s death. I had spent the last few months of her life flying back and forth between Boston and Virginia; between job and Mom. By the end of it all, I found I could no longer justify spending more time away from my family than I spent with them. I was walking around with a strong awareness that everyone I loved could die; would die. In my grief I was afraid that each time I spoke to my father would be the last. I had already lost one parent. Losing the other was no longer unthinkable; it was inevitable. Even as the earth began to warm itself after a long New England hibernation, I could fathom only endings, no beginnings. Like that blindingly bright morning when it suddenly dawned on me I had only five summers and Christmases left with my boys before they expanded their wings and dreams and launched themselves into adulthood. Yes, I was in the thick of it alright. Grief was my go-to guy for all things future.

I admit my decisions were driven by regret and fear and loss, all of them very dark passengers. But at the end of that grim road trip I found myself at home, and it was exactly where I needed to be.

I’m at home now when my boys walk through the door after school, hungry and disheveled and oh so big. I go to their basketball games on Wednesday afternoons. I make dinner using pots and pans and cutting boards. I monitor homework and help manage their ridiculously hectic eighth grade days. My husband works from home and I work with him. We hold hands and go for morning walks through Coolidge Corner. We see matinees and have lunch dates.

I close myself off in the sunroom when I need alone time and drown in a book, or click on my laptop, or cry as I listen to Christmas carols without my mom. I curl up in the sun like a cat and conjure up the illusive scent of my mother's rose garden. I remember and grieve and heal. I’m a body in motion, a body at rest, a home body.